Tuesday, April 24th 2012

NVIDIA Licenses Integrated, OV-Tolerant I/O and ESD Tech. from Sofics and ICsense

Sofics bvba of Gistel, a leading provider of ESD solutions for ICs, and ICsense of Leuven, a prominent designer of analog, mixed-signal, and high-voltage ICs and turnkey ASICs, today announced that NVIDIA has licensed their integrated ESD and I/O technology to provide a stable 3.3V I/O with robust ESD protection on its Icera modem processors that use 1.8V transistors.

The license includes customized ESD solutions from Sofics and ICsense’s overvoltage-tolerant I/Os. These solutions are based on a novel circuit technique proven in TSMC 0.18 um, 40 nm, and 28 nm processes that allows I/Os to handle more than 2X the voltage of the transistors on the chip.

“Our baseband modem needs to interface with legacy components in smartphones and tablets, such as SIM cards and memory cards. Sofics and ICsense came up with a solution for us that works at high voltages and provides good ESD protection. This enables us to handle off-chip interfaces of up to 3.6 volts, even for non-standard multimedia interfaces like HDMI and USB 3.0,” said Pete Hughes, Vice President, Mobile, NVIDIA.

“We are very pleased that NVIDIA has chosen to extend Icera’s license for this truly novel technology,” said Bram De Muer, ICsense CEO. “It’s a testimony to how successfully this family of overvoltage-tolerant I/Os integrates our analog, high-voltage-in-low-voltage design discipline with ESD protection expertise from Sofics.”

Integration of overvoltage tolerance with ESD protection delivers both technical and cost benefits, according to Sofics CEO Koen Verhaege.

“On the technology side, our collaborative approach to the technology has produced overvoltage-tolerant I/Os with low leakage and low capacitance, while offering high-speed operation with transistors from 0.85V to 1.8V,” said Verhaege. “Our cost advantages are just as compelling. There’s no development cost. There’s no shuttle cost. The technology is silicon-proven and product-proven, its IP is clean, and it uses standard processes.”

“It’s generally much less costly to license our technology than develop your own.”

More information on overvoltage-tolerant, ESD-protected general purpose digital I/O design pads is available directly from Sofics or ICsense, or by visiting the companies’ web sites.
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